Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Your 10 Worst Days as a Leader?

Bad things happen to good people, including good leaders. Stuff happens – you deal with it, learn from it, and move on.

Reflecting back over my own career as a leader, there were some days I’d just assume forget and never have to repeat. Having worked in various HR and leadership development roles, I also had a chance to hear about some serious bad hair days from leaders on the front lines.

So here’s my 10 top list, with opportunity to add your own at the end. It’s a mix - some are seriously really bad, and some may just cause a leader to lose a good night’s sleep. They didn’t ALL happen to me, but then again, there’s always next week.

1. Firing someone. Actually, if you add each of the discussions leading up to the firing, this one could count as 10 days by itself.

2. Laying off LOT’S of employees all at once. Or even being around when other employees are getting laid off, and feeling partly responsible as a leader in the organization.

3. Dealing with the death, serious illness, or some other traumatic personal employee tragedy.

4. Being the target of an unwarranted harassment or discrimination claim.

5. Dealing with a workplace violence incident.

6. Getting demoted, fired, or disciplined.

7. Informing candidates that they didn’t get the job.

8. Getting a critical leadership assessment and learning about your blind spots for the first time.

9. Taking your team off-site for a teambuilding session, and being called out by the retreat leader as a source of the team’s problems. Then, having to thank everyone and pay the bill. And no, this DID NOT happen to me. Well, not recently, anyway.

10. Attending a really, really horrible leadership training program.

If the thought of having to deal with one of more of these kinds of things absolutely freaks you out, then perhaps a leadership role isn’t the right role for you. If you think you could handle doing one or more of these things on a daily basis, then look for a role in Human Resources. (-:

How about you – what’s one of your worst days as a leader? Despite the buzz-kill topic, feel free to have some fun with it in the comments or on Twitter.

2 comments:

amvaishnav said...

I have had unfortunate occasions to experience many of these (really) bad days.
However, I always felt quite dejected when I got, in true and real sense, angry on a colleague, just because he persisted with his “stupid (!)” argument. After the burst of anger, when I would look back at the event, I have wondered why I crossed that flare up threshold- was it that person was a habitual argumentative persona, was it that he did it maliciously, was it that he was dumb enough to sincerely think that he was right, was the subject so dear to me that I could not tolerate disagreement in any form and several similar reasons.
On several occasions, I had opportunity to call back that colleague and discuss that matter, objectively, and either explain my reaction, and offer apology when I thought I had had no rational reason to behave that way.
I normally feel a sense of genuine anger when I have, what I consider a valid expected response from the colleague and that colleague does not seem to measure up, without seemingly put in sincere effort, to fulfil that expectation. All these years, I have sincerely practiced to control my first reaction of (genuine) anger, but there have been occasions when I just could not.
Even granting myself concession of being human like everyone else, these were my bad days.

Dan McCarthy said...

amvaishnav -
Thanks for sharing your experiences! Yes, we are all human.